Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Sunday of PawsAbilities

Sunday at PawsAbilities was just as jam-packed with canine fun as Saturday. The Main Hall was filled with chatter, barking, laughing and jiggling leashes.

Susquehanna Service Dogs explained clicker training, a clear way to communicate the behaviors you want your dog to exhibit. You use the clicker to pick the behavior and then reinforce that behavior by giving a reward. SSD Tara demonstrated how clicker training works.

Accelerant K-9 Loki and her handler Detective Dennis Woodring showed off Loki's skills in detecting gasoline and other fire accelerants. Because dogs' noses are much more sensitive than humans' noses, they can detect smells more accurately. At a fire scene where gasoline is present, Loki can locate the source 92% of the time. Compare that to people, who can accurately find it 30% of the time.

Broadway came to PawsAbilities again as animal trainer Bill Berloni and Chihuahua star Chico took the stage. Chico, who plays Elle Woods' beloved Chihuahua on Broadway's Legally Blonde The Musical, appeared decked out in a pink rhinestoned shirt - the signature color of Elle Woods. When Bill found Chico in a shelter in Newark, NJ, Chico was a fierce little spitfire who scared even the shelter's guards. After Bill rescued him and brought him into a loving home, Chico transformed into a completely different dog. Now he's the first dog to "bark" lines on Broadway.

New for Sunday was the flyball demonstration by Flyball Dogs Anonymous, and what a blur of energy they brought with them! To a chorus of cheers and barks, the Flyball Dogs raced down their lanes, leaped over the four hurdles, snagged the tennis ball that was launched out of the flyball box and raced back to the finish line. The excitement was so contagious, the dogs watching from outside the ring barked and strained at their leashes, eager to try out flyball for themselves.

The Keystone DockDogs made an even bigger splash as they held their Big Air finals. The winning dog leaped over 25 feet off the dock! We recorded their Big Air finals, and it will be available for you to watch soon.

SSD's own service dogs served as judges for the Great Biscuit Bite-Off! This year's judges were Iris, SSD Journey (one of the Hill Top puppies you may have watched on our Puppy Cam), and SSD Rossi. After taking a guided "sniff through" of the entries, each dog was released to gobble down their favorites. Here are this year's winners of the Biscuit Bite-Off:

First place: Jillian Barr and Scotty's Scones
Second place tie: Mrs. Olson with her Bacon Cheeseburger Biscuits, Christie Avery with her Beefy Bacon Bones
Third place tie: Barbara Kennedy and Kennedy Krispies, Lois Mason and Laurel's Peanut Butter Biscuits

Congratulations to all our contestants!

This year's PawsAbilities was a barking success, and just the thought of next all the PawsAbilities for next year have the dogs' tails wagging in excitement! Thank you to everyone who came out for the fun and to support SSD!

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